diluted stars, islands, civic tech, and 🍜

It’s been a while since my last post, and I keep pushing myself to do this write some reflections here more regularly in order to give myself an extra push of formalized and focused thinking time. I’m going to start experimenting soon with sharing out musings and recommendations each week from the content I’ve been consuming and thoughts I’ve been harboring. Would love for this to be a conduit for discussion and surfacing of new ideas and planning for it to evolve that way if all things go well.

I’m currently writing this from the Big Island of Hawaii. Even as I write that it feels unreal, and I feel like I should be somewhat guilty for making the trip out here despite everything going on. Yet the government of Hawaii is going full-out on pushing tourism and even encouraging remote workers to move here temporarily to put money into the local community. It’s a sharp contrast from what is normally seen on social media in putting down any attempt to travel (and surprisingly closer to what a lot of countries outside the U.S. are doing (see Japan’s tentative plans to reopen). It seems like the narrative still has not changed from how it was in the beginning of the virus where it is either irresponsible to open anything (due to spreading the virus) or irresponsible to close everything (due to devastating the economy. I kind of hate myself for saying this, but it seems like we need a more nuanced perspective to be pervasive in society (although it might not get us anywhere in terms of policy since it is a more complex view). I heard an amazing podcast episode recently that featured Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s new “digital minister,” where they described how their new post has enabled Taiwan to efficiently scale to the information challenges that COVID-19 presented. They set up a 24-hr hotline to ask questions about information which provided an avenue to quickly correct misinformation (using memes) and a community-driven website that scraped mask supplies from local pharmacies to alert locals to mask availability which eventually evolved into a full-fledged government-funded website with cooperation from the pharmacy corporations. It’s definitely worth a listen, and I’m left wondering how we can take some of these lessons and apply it at 10x population scale to the U.S.

I wrote a new piece on stars, coffee, and open fields (recommend reading while listening to lo-fi beats if you want the full experience 😄). It was a bit of a surreal and dreamy experience and curious to hear how it made you feel.

See the post

I’ve also been wanting to get into drawing, so this was a great opportunity to practice (I used Procreate on my iPad) with a vivid personal experience. I’m looking for tips and tutorials on how to get better at this if you have any!

If any of this resonates or you just want to say hi, I would love to listen and share!

my musings lately:

  • 🎱 play + inspiration: I loved playing Block Dude on the TI-83. I found out from The Dream Machine that it was created by a user who programmed the calculator for fun, specifically to “help other people get through those boring classes.” It’s crazy how something created for pure fun and curiosity became so popular and impactful, and it says a lot about the power of broadening the access for developing “software.” This is an extremely relevant area of thought for the things I do at Coda too.

  • 🏠 on the web: What is your “home” on the Internet? Is it a corporate website or is it something more personal? What space on the Internet feels unmistakably like yours? Thinking about how customization is core to identity and how we’ve lost that as the Internet has increasingly commoditized and bundled.

  • 💭 communication mediums: most people prefer speech (specifically, in-person speech) as the medium of choice. What if speech became 15-20% (or some other significant threshold) more likely to result in errors or miscommunications? Would we abandon speech for text altogether? What would the threshold need to be for us to naturally self-correct?

the fun box:

I’m starting up a new tradition of including something fun (maybe often food) in every post to make this a little more personal.

I made garlic noodles for the fam last night following one of my favorite recipes from J Kenji and spiced it up by adding crab meat, eggplant, daikon, and some asiago. I think the daikon ended up being a little lost unfortunatelyーthink I may have had to season them by themselves a little more instead of just relying on the sauce.

As always with gratitude,

Spencer

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